Kovaleva, Ol’ga Vasil’evna
Born July 23 (Aug. 4), 1881, in the village of Liubovka, in Saratov Province; died Jan. 2, 1962, in Moscow. Russian Soviet contralto, People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1947).
In 1906, Kovaleva graduated from the School of Music of the Saratov Division of the Russian Society of Music. From 1907 to 1909 she studied at I. P. Prianishnikov’s opera school in St. Petersburg. She sang at opera theaters in various provinces. Her roles included Ratmir in Glinka’s Ruslan and Liudmila and Siebel in Gounod’s Faust. In 1913, Kovaleva began performing folk songs. Her large and varied repertoire consisted of old lyrical songs that had been sung by women—wedding songs and vocalises songs. Kovaleva’s unique rendering of the songs was marked by its genuine folk spirit, simplicity, and intimacy. She understood and was able to convey the intonational and melodic essence of Russian songs and the distinctive character of songs that combine singing and reciting. In 1924 she became a radio singer. Kovaleva also wrote several songs (often both the lyrics and melody).